Child custody arrangements are often the most challenging aspect of a divorce case. While it is never ideal, joint child custody is usually the best way that the child can spend time with both parents. Now, COVID-19 is causing many to question if the changed circumstances we all are facing should also change these custody arrangements and child support orders.
Shelter-in-Place orders and social distancing have changed the way that we interact with one another, and the new normal seems to change from one day to the next, but these don’t change the rights and obligations of each parent, as outlined in your divorce. The custody continues to be in force as it was set forth by the court. You still need to follow what the order says.
What if the other parent isn’t following COVID-19 guidelines?
Our entire nation seems to be divided when it comes to how people interpret and follow (or don’t follow) the “rules” regarding Covid-19. These same divisions exist within families and between parents who share custody of their child.
If there is a disagreement between you and the other parent regarding whether or not the child should be spending time at their home during the pandemic, you have to get a court order to make any changes. If you think your child is in danger while with the other parent, you can file an emergency (ex parte) motion with the court.
What if the other parent isn’t following the child custody arrangement?
Both of you have to follow the court order. If either of you won’t follow it, then there are ways to enforce the order, legally. This includes contacting your local police department to enforce the court order. This should be a last resort since having police present at parenting time exchanges can be stressful for children.
Changes in Child Support
One of the most challenging changes we have experienced due to COVID-19 has been the loss of income. If you or the other parent have a child support obligation, this income loss may require a modification of the support order. Other changes that could precipitate a modification of the order are a change in expenses, childcare, insurance, or other circumstances. This can be a difficult thing to work out between parents when other stressors are affecting them. This is one of the reasons it is helpful to have legal representation.
If you are considering making changes to your child custody or child support arrangements, you need experienced legal advice. We are family law divorce and child support experts in Elk River, Minnesota. Contact us for a free consultation today.